Surprise: Robot Sub Finds Much Thicker Than Expected Antarctic Sea Ice

From the British Antarctic Survey comes this press release which really isn’t a surprise to climate skeptics. In Antarctica, not only is the amount of sea ice increasing each year, but an underwater robot now shows the ice is also much thicker than was previously thought, a new study in Nature Geoscience reports.

Underwater robot sheds new light on Antarctic sea ice

The first detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice have been developed using an underwater robot.

Antarctic-robot

This is the AUV SeaBED robot under the Antarctic sea ice. Credit: WHOI

The first detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice have been developed using an underwater robot. Scientists from the UK, USA and Australia say the new technology provides accurate ice thickness measurements from areas that were previously too difficult to access.

The results, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience (Monday 24 November 2014), step up the pace of research in the polar regions aimed at understanding the dramatic sea ice changes in the context of climate change.

Scientists use a range of technologies and techniques to measure sea ice thickness. Satellite observations can measure large-scale thickness from space, but interpreting the data accurately can be difficult due to snow cover on the ice. Measurements made on the sea ice by drilling holes, together with visual observations from ships are critical for building a more complete picture, but difficulties in getting access to thicker areas of sea ice leaves gaps in the data. Now, with the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) known as SeaBED, scientists have an invaluable new tool to fill this gap.

While most oceanographic survey instruments look down at the seafloor, SeaBED was fitted with an upward-looking sonar in order to measure and map the underside of sea ice floes. The AUV operated at a depth of 20 to 30 meters and was driven in a lawnmower pattern. These lines of data were merged to form high-resolution 3D bathymetric surveys of the underside of the ice.

The yellow SeaBED robot, which is approximately two meters long and weighs nearly 200 kilograms, has a twin-hull design that gives the robot enhanced stability for low-speed photographic surveys.

“Putting an AUV together to map the underside of sea ice is challenging from a software, navigation and acoustic communications standpoint,” says Hanumant Singh, an engineering scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) whose lab designed, built and operated the AUV.

“SeaBED’s maneuverability and stability made it ideal for this application where we were doing detailed floe-scale mapping and deploying, as well as recovering in close-packed ice conditions. It would have been tough to do many of the missions we did, especially under the conditions we encountered, with some of the larger vehicles.”

Co-author Dr Guy Williams from Institute of Antarctic and Marine Science adds:

“The full 3-D topography of the underside of the ice provides a richness of new information about the structure of sea ice and the processes that created it. This is key to advancing our models particularly in showing the differences between Arctic and Antarctic sea ice.”

The data from SeaBED, combined with airborne measurements of sea-ice surface elevation, ice coring surveys, and satellite observations, vastly improves scientists’ estimates of ice thickness and total sea ice volume.

Co-author Dr Jeremy Wilkinson from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) says, “The AUV missions have given us a real insight into the nature of Antarctic sea ice – like looking through a microscope. We can now measure ice in far greater detail and were excited to measure ice up to 17 metres thick.”

This is the AUV SeaBED being deployed from British Antarctic Survey’s RRS James Clark Ross.

The team deployed AUVs as part of two Antarctic cruises (IceBell and SIPEX-2) in 2010 and 2012 in the austral spring. First on the British Antarctic Survey’s RRS James Clark Ross and the second on the Australian icebreaker the RSV Aurora Australis. Three locations around the Antarctic Peninsula were mapped – the Weddell, Bellinghausen and Wilkes Land sectors covering an area of 500,000 square metres, the size of 100 football pitches.

The next steps are for the scientists to do large-scale surveys that can be compared to large-scale observations from aircraft and satellites.

“What this effort does is show that observations from AUVs under the ice are possible and there is a very rich data set that you can get from them,” says Ted Maksym, a WHOI scientist and co-author of the paper. “This work is an important step toward making the kinds of routine measurements we need in order to really monitor and understand what’s happening with the ice and the large scale changes that are occurring.”

###

The research was carried out by scientists at the Institute of Antarctic and Marine Science (Australia), Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre (Australia), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA) and British Antarctic Survey (UK).

Notes to Editors:

Still images and video of the SeaBED and Antarctica are available here: ftp://ftp.nerc-bas.ac.uk/pub/photo/Antarctic_sea_ice/ NB: to download do not use an FTP client, simply open in any web browser (firefox/IE etc) right click on the filename and select ‘save target/link/file as’ to begin the download or from the Press Offices listed above.

Thick and deformed Antarctic sea ice mapped with autonomous underwater vehicles by G. Williams, T. Maksym, J. Wilkinson, C. Kunz, C. Murphy, P. Kimball, H. Singh is published in Nature Geoscience on 24 November 2014.

The AUV captured extensive deformation, with the underside revealing large ‘rubble fields’ of sea ice, suggesting repeated, multi-directional collisions between ice floes through the winter period. This is in contrast to what scientists previously understood from the Arctic, where larger sections of sea ice, under constant pressure, produce longer linear ‘ridge’ features.

British Antarctic Survey (BAS), an institute of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. Through its extensive logistic capability and know-how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. For more information visit http://www.antarctica.ac.uk.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit http://www.whoi.edu.

The Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre is a unique collaboration between the Australian Antarctic Division, CSIRO, the University of Tasmania, the Australian Government Department of the Environment, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (Germany), and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (New Zealand) plus a consortium of 13 other international participants. The Centre’s mission is to understand the crucial role played by Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in global climate, and the impacts of climate change on Australia and the world, and to inform governments, industry, the community and scientists about climate change to guide our future.

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173 thoughts on “Surprise: Robot Sub Finds Much Thicker Than Expected Antarctic Sea Ice

    • The article seems to indicate a systematic error in existing measurements.
      “Measurements made on the sea ice by drilling holes, together with visual observations from ships are critical for building a more complete picture, but difficulties in getting access to thicker areas of sea ice leaves gaps in the data”
      So measuremetns will tend to made in the thinner, more accessable areas. Major problem me thinks. And similar to an article earlier on WUWT about a polar bear ( or was it penguin) colony populations study that was used because it was accessable.
      How can the science be settled when there still exists large and un-accounted for systemetic errors in the data?

      • The settled science obviously isn’t. This issue of “un-accounted for systemetic errors in the data” looms ever larger over the discussion. The “inconvenient” truths are piling up:
        (1) 50+ (and climbing) screwball theories for why no warming in last 17-20 years;
        (2) Multiple unexplained upward revisions to the 20th century temperature record;
        (3) Polar bears refuse to go extinct; we may have more than ever before;
        (4) 100% of Arctic sea ice did not melt;
        (5) Children in the northeast US have been reintroduced to – wait for it – snow;
        (6) Selected glaciers recede, exposing previously unknown human settlements;
        (7) Extreme weather events are fewer, not more, than in the recent past.
        This is exactly what you’d get from a cockamamy fairy tale that in no way represents what’s happening in the natural world. Why anybody espousing this stuff has any credibility is inexplicable.
        These are precisely the type of issues the scientific method was created to address. Galileo, Newton, Einstein and Feynman must be spinning in their graves.

  1. Plan on the awarmists saying this isn’t the type of ice they are concerned about but some other type of Antarctic ice is more indicative of global warming. Maybe they should drink more of that Kool Aid using the ice in the fridge, you know, the kind produced by very reliable, coal-fired electricity.

      • No, that’s not how “science” works. The new data confirms what has been predicted by the models. The situation is expected to get worse in a warming world.

    • If this was the other way around and warmists had found the ice to be thinner than thought it would be hyped to the heavens. If this were to be hyped in the same way, one would simply say the ice had “jumped” in an “unprecedented” manner from a few feet to 17 meters (say 45 feet) rather than saying these were new measurements and we did not really know how thick it was until now and that the error bars were different between the older and newer measurements.

    • What they could be setting up is a new ‘finding’ that later (than 2012) measurements show that the ice depth is decreasing.
      Excuse me for being cynical. Past form is a guide.

  2. Didn’t we just read about the “thinness” of Antarctic ice, and the explanation that warmer water due to colder air was melting the Antarctic ice from below?
    I can’t keep track of what is or isn’t current. I don’t doubt the scientists’ honest intent. But the contradictions keep telling me that EVERYTHING about global warming is regional or local, not global. The machinations of mathematics and models, which induce and smear observations from a spot to an area appear to create a global situation for public policy and personal importance reasons, when a regional situation is what is true.
    Computational, ideological and emotional reality, not representational reality, as I choose to describe CAGW.

    • ” I don’t doubt the scientists’ honest intent.”
      Honest intent is not enough. What is needed is competence. These guys still believe in global warming by the greenhouse effect when it demonstrably does not exist. And don’t believe that Hansen proved it to the Senate. He showed gross ignorance of what his data meant.

    • I do doubt the scientists’ honest intent. They say they work together to deliver research that advances understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. [my bold]
      That shows they start with preconceptions – a bias. In real science, surely the aim is to advance understanding. Period.

      • That doesn’t make the intent “dishonest,” merely misguided and unscientific. You also want to consider that decades ago, science became a target for distrust. The “mad scientist” became a cultural meme AND scientists and would scientists during the ’60s and ’70s began to about “socially responsible” science, which meant that in addition to the empirical facts one was supposed to at least give a nod to people’s “feelings.” That is, any knuckle head’s “concerns” had to be “acknowledged” by a scientist regardless of how insane those concerns might be. It is totally unacceptable to tell someone, “sir [or mam] you are far more likely to die from crossing the street unwarily while talking on your cell phone than from exposure to escaping radiation from your microwave.”

    • If you look closely, you will see “Koch Brothers” written on the hull…darn, should have got some big bucks from Cook et al. for that idea, insead of giving it for free here….

    • They have to adjust the data to fit the models. That wasn’t done before the premature release of this information. After that’s done then it will be worse than they thought.

  3. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see where the presser says they measured “much thicker than expected” ice. All I see is that they were able to measure thicker ice than had previously been possible due to technical considerations.

    • Exactly. Is the ice thicker than they previously estimated or has it just been measured more accurately? Be very careful of reading more in that’s there – it will come back to bite you!

    • For that you needed to read the interview at TheDailyBlog:
      http://foreignaffairs.co.nz/2014/11/25/expert-reaction-to-research-on-antarctic-sea-ice/
      The quote you’re interested in:
      “‘Because Antarctic sea ice melts and refreezes every year, we tend to think of it as relatively thin and smooth, a view that was not challenged by the few measurements available up to now. This latest discovery reveals a much richer and more exciting picture, one of a more dynamically active ice pack than previously thought…”

      • Shackleton could have told them 100 years ago that Antarctic sea ice was frequently compressed and buckled into ridges. Their ship was crushed by sea ice and had to be abandoned. Perhaps AGW is suffering a similar fate in Antarctica?

    • Here is the abstract. Somehow the press release missed the main finding.
      Satellites have documented trends in Antarctic sea-ice extent and its variability for decades, but estimating sea-ice thickness
      in the Antarctic from remote sensing data remains challenging. In situ observations needed for validation of remote sensing
      data and sea-ice models are limited; most have been restricted to a few point measurements on selected ice floes, or to visual
      shipboard estimates. Here we present three-dimensional (3D) floe-scale maps of sea-ice draft for ten floes, compiled from
      two springtime expeditions by an autonomous underwater vehicle to the near-coastal regions of theWeddell, Bellingshausen,
      and Wilkes Land sectors of Antarctica. Mean drafts range from 1.4 to 5.5 m, with maxima up to 16 m. We also find that, on
      average, 76% of the ice volume is deformed ice. Our surveys indicate that the floes are much thicker and more deformed than
      reported by most drilling and ship-based measurements of Antarctic sea ice.We suggest that thick ice in the near-coastal and
      interior pack may be under-represented in existing in situ assessments of Antarctic sea ice and hence, on average, Antarctic
      sea ice may be thicker than previously thought.

      • I have to agree with some of the responses. Maybe I missed it but I could not find the expression of it being “Much Thicker Than Expected” in the POST itself. If it is on the web then it would be helpful to be in the POST?
        Thanks Lance Wallace for the abstract, now let me go onto the web to find it!! Sorry no luck yet. 🙁

      • Here is the entire article. Really the first ground truth (or undersea truth) measurements of sea ice thickness in Antarctica other than from drilling. The authors point out that there is some bias in the drilling representativeness due to [greater] difficulty in reaching the thicker areas. 10 ice floes were measured, and the mean thickness was closer to 3 m than the 0.8 m estimated from shipboard observations and the 1 m estimated from drilling. Since the authors did not measure in the areas between floes, their results are biased in the opposite direction, toward greater thickness than may actually be the true average. But it still looks as though the true thickness may be twice that assumed by the modelers.
        https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/75831381/Williams%20thick%20deformed%20Antarctic%20sea%20ice.pdf

      • OK, so now I have been shown the abstract here is what I had previously thought! I was going to say.
        Is EAST Antarctica sea-ice much thicker than previously thought! So much for the screeches of ‘mass balance’ spiral meltdown.
        Look, I never believe any claims from Warmists. It’s my nature and as time goes by we are shown to be nearer the ‘truth’. Next please.

    • I’ve gotta think the USN and RN sub kids have got some technical insight into this as well but it’s probably classified. I do find it promising that they are actually trying to measure the physical thickness of the sea ice. Hopefully it stays inside of realistic scientific and engineering parameters and for a change we might add some good, valid information to the scientific body.
      (It’s got to be better than bouncing a laser off a penguin and comparing the reflections to the output of a model extrapolated from GRACE data to prove we’ve got a bunch of thin sea ’cause the missing heat from the tropopause North Pacific Atlantic has moved under the Antarctic.)

      • nielszoo said
        “I’ve gotta think the USN and RN sub kids have got some technical insight into this ”
        Well no.
        Unlike the Arctic the Antarctic
        a) Has a continent at its centre
        b) Has no reason for the USN or RN to send its submarines there, nobody is overly concerned that the Russians might attack the indigenous inhabitants (Penguins)
        Additionally Submarines have sonar designed to keep them clear of the ice , not to measure it.

      • Keith W. Do you know of any other, extremely technically competent, organizations that have a half century of experience running around under and analyzing sea ice thickness? I don’t think the technical and measurement expertise becomes invalid because said sea ice is at the other pole.

    • Here ya go.
      Abstract:
      Satellites have documented trends in Antarctic sea-ice extent and its variability for decades, but estimating sea-ice thickness in the Antarctic from remote sensing data remains challenging. In situ observations needed for validation of remote sensing data and sea-ice models are limited; most have been restricted to a few point measurements on selected ice floes, or to visual shipboard estimates. Here we present three-dimensional (3D) floe-scale maps of sea-ice draft for ten floes, compiled from two springtime expeditions by an autonomous underwater vehicle to the near-coastal regions of the Weddell, Bellingshausen, and Wilkes Land sectors of Antarctica. Mean drafts range from 1.4 to 5.5 m, with maxima up to 16 m. We also find that, on average, 76% of the ice volume is deformed ice. Our surveys indicate that the floes are much thicker and more deformed than reported by most drilling and ship-based measurements of Antarctic sea ice. We suggest that thick ice in the near-coastal and interior pack may be under-represented in existing in situ assessments of Antarctic sea ice and hence, on average, Antarctic sea ice may be thicker than previously thought.

    • Many thanks for the followups by everybody. It does seem that important information was left out of the press release.

    • Hello…Athena from British Antarctic Survey here. Jimmy – you’ve got it exactly right. The release focuses on capturing a more accurate 3D map of the ice from the underwater robot, which wasn’t possible before dues to isses of access and technology. Nobody is saying the ice is getting thicker…

      • Athena,
        It is curious that you handle communications, because I don’t see anything in the OP or anyone stating that the ice is getting thicker. Is this a strawman you’ve decided to throw out?
        What I see is the OP, rightfully, restating what the survey has shown, which is that the ice is thicker than expected and the sea ice extent, itself, has been increasing. The expectation of thinner ice is the most important aspect of this, since those assumptions have been used in modeling and the assumptions, themselves, were created by modeling. The is another damning piece of evidence against global warming theory, since global warming theory says the ice should be thinner and the extent of the ice should be shrinking. That is wrong on both counts.
        How do you see it?

      • Athena Dinar, thanks to you and your team for doing real, science based field research in an extremely inhospitable part of the world. Getting the science community real, direct data on Antarctic sea ice is a very good and very welcome thing. It’s great to see a group actually building survey procedures and building the base for some new, real data instead of computer modeled guesses with preconceived outcomes that seems to be the norm these days.

  4. Unless there’s some especially “brilliant” (read: stupid) way of spinning this that I can’t think of, which I admit is a perfectly legit possibility, I can’t see any other option for warmists than to quietly sweep it under the rug.

    • That is exactly what is going to happen, unless they can find a small phrase somewhere that some media outlet can turn out of context to support their position. In which case they will be quoting it constantly for the rest of the week.

      • Yet Pat, imagine if the underwater rovers found it to be ‘AS BAD [WE] THOUGHT’ or ‘WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT’? It would be spun as “rover confirms our worst beliefs” or “it’s much worse than we thought!!!!!” For now they will remain mostly silent. The scientists have a get out clause by saying they issued a ‘proper’ press release. This is how the game is played. BS.

  5. Somebody better check to see that they did measure the ice thickness in metres, and not feet. We don’t need another Mars crash landing because of a units snafu.

  6. Despite the headline, this has absolutely nothing to do with climate change, climate variability, or even weather. It is a new measurement technique, being compared to an old measurement technique. There is no baseline data (from which to indicate a change) from the new technique. And of course the absolute thickness of the ice floes has no effect on sea level. Just more media sensationalism here.

    • But the new technique showed the Team’s assumptions yet again false. Antarctic sea ice isn’t all new, thin ice, as the Team kept asserting, but includes thicker, multi-year ice, as in the Arctic. This observation also vitiates a favored excuse of the Team, ie that the more extensive Antarctic sea ice results from melting of land ice, which of course was a false assertion its face in the first place, since most of the Antarctic ice sheet is also growing. A bit in West Antarctica might be losing mass due to volcanic activity.

      • Did you read the article? It says the Antarctic ice is different than Arctic ice, much of which is not thicker, multi-year ice:
        The AUV captured extensive deformation, with the underside revealing large ‘rubble fields’ of sea ice, suggesting repeated, multi-directional collisions between ice floes through the winter period. This is in contrast to what scientists previously understood from the Arctic, where larger sections of sea ice, under constant pressure, produce longer linear ‘ridge’ features.
        And where did you get the idea that most of the Antarctic ice sheet (land ice) is growing? Satellite measurements suggest otherwise:
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL060111/abstract

      • The gravity satellites are fatally flawed.
        http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1008/29goce/
        The East Antarctic Ice Sheet, with the majority of the planet’s fresh water, quit retreating over 3000 years ago, as shown by soil radionuclides around its margins.
        Even if you believe CryoSat “data”, only the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing more than a negligible amount. And the insignificant loss there is most likely due to volcanism.
        It’s simply too cold on the EAIS for it to lose a significant amount, even with slight warming over the past 300 years since the depths of the LIA.
        Besides which, other studies find that Antarctica is gaining mass.
        http://www.climatedepot.com/2013/09/01/antarctic-ice-sheet-growing-study-mass-gains-of-the-antarctic-ice-sheet-exceed-losses/

      • “””””…..
        Barry
        November 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm
        Did you read the article? It says the Antarctic ice is different than Arctic ice, much of which is not thicker, multi-year ice:…..”””””
        Izzat “different than ” or is it “different from.” ? I wasn’t even aware it was possible to be different than.
        Learn something new every day.

      • Alas, George e. smith, that monstrosity is becoming common, along with “if I would have”/”I wish I would have” in place of “if I had”/”I wish I had”, “based off of/out of” for things that are clearly based on or in, and a ghastly plague of commas placed after subject clauses. The internet has revealed the true, depressing, extent of public illiteracy. It’s worse than we thought.
        Not to mention “tow the line”.

      • This research measured 3 areas: 2 of those are on the West Antarctic side. Not very representative, as the West side gets more energy from ocean currents and volcanic activity. Still that ice was thicker than what they expected.

      • RoHa I believe you could “tow a line” into a place where it could be “toed” if you can “toe a line” whose use may also be as a sheet or painter. That would be in addition to “toeing” the scribe’s output… just sayin’.

    • The Climateers have been whining about sea ice melt causing massive influxes of fresh water and huge increases in ocean heat content because of it. (sorry, I can’t find the link to the paper, it was just a few months ago at most.) They’ve been using the “thin ice” excuse based on wildly inaccurate GRACE ice thickness guesses and are doing so because the extents have been increasing so just like the Arctic, there has to be something found “wrong” with the ice that’s there. This survey and data help to drive another nail in the CAGW coffin.

    • Yeah, well, skeptics weren’t going around saying that the ice was thinner and melting, therefore action needed to be taken right now to avoid a disaster. Nor were we claiming to imprison (see Robert Kennedy’s recent speech at the UN) anybody for disagreeing with opinions that differed from the officials. There are more than a few articles from peer reviewed supporting the sudden collapse of the Antarctic ice cap. All caused by CAGW. Along with a host of explanations when the actual data was in direct conflict with the models.

    • Barry
      November 24, 2014 at 11:39 am
      Despite the headline, this has absolutely nothing to do with climate change, climate variability, or even weather.

      It has everything to do with “climate change, climate variability”. They have the OLD thickness assumptions hard wired into their sea ice models. What if the ice thickness was less than previously thought? What do you think the headlines would have said??????????
      Good night all.

  7. “This work is an important step toward making the kinds of routine measurements we need in order to really monitor and understand what’s happening with the ice and the large scale changes that are occurring.”
    I wonder what “large scale changes” they think are occurring? This is a baseline measurement which might help them understand what is there now, but they have no data on any “changes”. It is a massive leap of faith in CAGW to assume “changes that are occurring”.

  8. The book “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing about Ernest Shackleton’s astonishing escape from Antarctica, is a very good place to learn about the dynamic fast-changing and unpredictable nature of the Antarctic sea ice. They could look out from an ice floe and see miles of empty sea around them, and a few hours later be hemmed in by dense pack ice.
    Stranded on Antarctic sea ice with only 1914 technology and no communication with the outside, their jouney to South Georgia without loss of life is a feat of survival against the odds which will quite likely never be surpassed by Homo sapiens.

    • Exactly.
      But then Shackleton was a Merchant Seaman and used to using common sense, currently in short supply.

      • Shackleton had that and a good bit more. I’ve always loved this quote about the three titans of polar exploration, from a man who served under two of them:
        “For scientific discovery give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.” – Sir Raymond Priestly

  9. The chaos is deafening. Whatever shall we do? Perhaps distinguish between science and other philosophies, and return scientific work to the scientific domain. Thanks, Robot Sub. You’re doing the work that the “consensus” does not want to do.

  10. Aw, come on, this seems to me to be new information and so long as no-one “improves” or “adjusts” the data, new information can only be a “good thing”.
    Credit where it is due.
    What the warmists do with the information is a different thing altogether.

  11. Could this be the missing ice from the north pole/ Or maybe this explains the hiatus somehow…hee,hee…think fast Grubers!

  12. “Three locations around the Antarctic Peninsula were mapped – the Weddell, Bellinghausen and Wilkes Land sectors covering an area of 500,000 square metres”
    That is 0.5 square kilometers of (at this moment) 13,000,000 square kilometers of sea ice. Incidentally it seems likely that the thickest ice is in the Wedell sector where the sea ice has not melted in recent years contrary to theory.

    • Yeah, they mapped less than 1km² in total, less than 1 part in 20 million (at this years peak) and jumped to the conclusion that it’s all the same!

  13. It appears they really were surprised. Notice the “excitement” at measuring ice up to 17 meters thick, when previous studies suggested maximum thickness (in a few spots) of only 5 m:

    Previous studies suggested the ice was usually 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m) thick, with a few rare spots reaching up to 16 feet (5 m) in thickness.

    https://news.yahoo.com/robot-sub-finds-surprisingly-thick-antarctic-sea-ice-161703215.html
    Chalk this up to another in a long line of countless nails in the CAGW coffin.

  14. I just read the full article and the authors are to be commended for a good job reporting their results. They thoroughly discuss the measurements they did, the relationship to other measurements and implications for future measurements. As far as I can see, they did not speculate or comment on anything having to do with global warming or climate controversies. A fine job of empirical science. Well worth the money. More is needed in earth observations.

  15. Oh no! More sea ice means sea levels will rise higher than they estimated when the big warm-up comes….
    Oh dearie me…. what will we do?

  16. Oh nooo… =8-o This means that global warming is melting more ice than we thought so sea levels are rising much faster than we adjusted the measurements to… Quick, adjust the data and the models to 40 meters of sea level increase in the next 100 years and contact Al for a movie follow up! (Its kind of fun to try and think like an alarmist – unproductive – but fun)
    So this has me wondering if the thickness of Antarctica ice is thicker than expected, how do we know that Arctic ice isn’t thicker also?

  17. Doesn’t anyone see what is happening? The undersea volcanoes are pasting layers of ice to the bottom of the ice sheet.

  18. In the style of Marshall McLuhan.
    This was in Nature Geoscience.
    It was not in Nature Climate Change.
    Funny how they need two journals; one for observations and one for models.

  19. cue claims that is too limited amount of data , while only a single ‘magic tree ‘ is more than enough to prove , and too limited a time span, while a one day flood is more than enough to prove , to disprove AGW.
    In short the tails I win heads you lose approch to science that seem to be the standard approch in climate studies.

  20. This study and the comments is a great example of how science works and why we are skeptics.
    Knowledge is fractal
    Every thing we learn begets ten new questions.
    The more you learn, the less you understand.
    The more you learn, the more you know what you don’t know
    The more you learn, the less confidence you have in previous models
    Before this study, reality was clear to the modelers: The ice is thin and smooth underneath – it was a parameter. An assumption.
    Now, there are lots of new facts that need to be empirically determined. How does the complexity of the under-ice topology effect melting? More surface area, but less (?) current flow, accounting for all the eddies, etc. A simple assumption has been transformed into a very complex problem that ripples through the models and begs for new empirical data and reveals how little was actually known.
    Real scientists accept and welcome the fractal nature of the universe. Those peddling dogma do not. When the pope was invited to look through Galileo’s telescope, he refused. The empirical evidence of his eyes would have washed away hundreds of years of dogma, of which he was the highest representative.
    So I would propose that skeptics be considered to be realists – willing to go wherever the empirical data leads and welcoming of new information and knowledge.

  21. Showing that robots make better scientists than the highly self-esteemed “consensus climate science” Team.

    • I laughed. I agreed. And then I disagreed.
      Yes robots are unbiased reporters of observations.
      But they don’t make that leap to a creative, explanatory hypothesis.
      And the Team, most assuredly, are creative.

      • What good though are hypothesis, no matter how creative, if they’re not testable and subject to being shown false?
        So, while admittedly the robots are limited to being experimentalists, they’re still IMO better scientists than the fake, pseudo-scientists of the Team.
        Rosalind Franklin was a great scientist, although she left the hypothesizing to her male colleagues.

      • Catherine Ronconi, you are quite right. Actually, Rosalind Franklin is somewhat a hero of mine – I used to be an analytical chemist.
        Yet I fear you missed my British irony. My literary skills are not the greatest and I may have not conveyed every nuance of the word “creative”.
        So much creativity is constrained by petty attachments to child-like honesty, prosaic reality and a mere fear of dishonour.
        But the Team, most assuredly, are creative.

      • I knew what you meant. But creative excuse making without testable predictions doesn’t count as science, IMO.

      • Fair point.
        Although I feel (not necessarily think) that wild speculation may be science. It’s not engineering as it doesn’t work. Of course, it’s no basis for policy.
        But saying “If this then the observations mean that” is still science. It allows the building of testable hypotheses (e.g. the Tropical Hotspot, the computer models, the decline in polar ice, etc).
        For me the Team ceased to be scientists when they ignored the unreality of the Tropical Hotspot.
        And, by the way, They had lost my respect long before then.
        It was back when they attacked peer review – as seen in Climategate.

      • As Feynman pointed out WAGs count as hypotheses, but they have to be testable. If Mother Nature says no, then it’s back the to wild a$s guess drawing board.

  22. When climate scientists encounter data that contradicts a particular closely held paradigm, the next phrase out of their mouths and pens: “but this doesn’t mean the catastrophic man made global warming isn’t happening”. Pointing to the Arctic Ocean and diminishing sea ice (and ignored recently growing sea ice extent), climate scientists have been insisting that Arctic sea ice loss was a sign of global warming as their models had predicted. More atmospheric CO2, more global warming (not counting the current hiatus in global warming). The problem comes up when the claim that CO2 in the atmosphere is a well mixed gas. This well mixed gas which climate scientists say is causing the Arctic ice to diminish, must also be well mixed in Antarctica, so…climate scientists had predicted that the extent and thickness of Antarctic Sea Ice should also be thinning and have less extent. The data shows that Antarctic sea ice extent has been growing and reached record (as far as the records go back), and now the ice thickness of 56 foot thick, says….the exact opposite of what is happening in the Arctic. Instead of saying to themselves that maybe their models and their emphasis on CO2 effects are the “control knob of climate”, maybe they should say that a greater extent and thickness of Antarctic Sea ice means we climate scientists don’t understand what is happening in either the Arctic or Antarctic. Could it be that CO2 is not the control knob nor the boogyman that climate scientist have claimed? Could we be wrong? “Nah, we’re climate scientists and we know all about climate, just ask us.”

  23. If anyone has a source or sources documenting the ice thicknesses used in or projected by the various models I will wager that a chart comparing the model thicknesses with observed data would make for entertaining reading.

  24. I wonder if these results can be used to better interpret the satellite data? As others have noted, getting enough coverage with underwater instruments is going to require a lot of them, and a lot of time. Plus I don’t think the tender ships can operate safely during the Antarctic winter, so we could only measure half of the seasonal freeze/melt cycle.

  25. Reality’s a bitch. No climate modeler could have predicted this outcome. Perhaps the focus should be on the Climate Skeptic terminology. Is the sky falling? – Yes: You’re a “Climate Alarmist”, or – No, it isn’t: You’re a “Climate Realist”. Is climate changing? Yes, but in subtle ways that are certainly within normal parameters and cycles. I’m pleased to call myself a “Climate Realist”. It’s a great way to position yourself for a win when beginning any discussion with an Alarmist. You may be able to teach them something too.

  26. yea…now they have a new way of starting measuring from the peak….we’ll be able to see every small increment as it goes back to normal
    snark/

  27. The Australian Government has budgeted for and are seeking tenders (may have been tendered for by now) to build a bigger ice-breaker to replace the aging RSV Aurora Australis. They may have [to] reconsider:

  28. Team news flash:
    We tried an upside down proxy series and it’s a whole lot worse than we thought folks!

  29. Shirley they should be able to tell the mass below the surface by looking at the mass projecting above the surface? Or are they just saying it is rougher underneath?

    • It’s not exactly a vacation destination for recreational diving.</sarc>
      I can’t honestly remember ever reading about any below the ice dive work in Antarctica, and if done, I’d think, would have been at the edges, polynyas, or where the ice is thin already so not a very good sample to start with.

  30. The paper is from 2014 but the study with the AUvs, two of them(?) appears from 2010 and 2012. I’m I reading something wrong here …Is this from ice from 2010 & 2012 and present conditions not included? Present conditions are greater then 2010 & 2012 are they not??
    one confused Morlock
    michael

  31. This needs to be done in the Arctic as well, in order to calibrate current indirect thickness measurements we see in many maps / charts.

  32. They did try their best to find thinner ice than expected by surveying a small area (100 football fields indeed, they should have gone for a 1000 olympic sized swimming pools – the usual metric designed to wow us) off the Antarctic Peninsula with volcanoes bubbling away on and offshore.

  33. Climate researchers generate politically inconvenient results and publish them anyway. Shockingly nefarious behavior.

    • There was a lot of funding involved, Brandon, likely including clauses about publishing their results.
      Speaking of “politically inconvenient results”, has the climate science community been open with the public about how their climate models do not properly simulate global surface temperatures, precipitation or sea ice? Answer: No, they have not. Has the climate science community been open with the public about their models are not simulations of Earth’s climate? Answer: That’s two no answers right in a row.

      • Bob,
        Apparently those speculated causes didn’t cover publishing results showing thicker sea ice than previously supposed. And of course the reason you know how badly off the GCMs are is because the data are published for anyone to download, review, investigate and analyze independently. Sure sounds like a conspiracy to me.

    • “What this effort does is show that observations from AUVs under the ice are possible and there is a very rich data set that you can get from them,” says Ted Maksym, a WHOI scientist and co-author of the paper. “This work is an important step toward making the kinds of routine measurements we need in order to really monitor and understand what’s happening with the ice and the large scale changes that are occurring.”
      Tell us Brandon, where in that new research discovery of ice being thicker than any previous research had understood, does it come up with any understanding whatsoever of -‘the large scale changes that are occurring’?

  34. …..”which means we were biased towards thinner ice.”
    So now we now yet another way convenient presumption was used to invent and embellish evidence of the AGW theory.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/24/antarctic-ice-thicker-survey-finds
    “Previously, measurements of Antarctic ice thickness were hindered by technological constraints. Ice breaking ships could only go so far into ice to measure depth, while no-one had drilled much more than 5.5m down into the ice to extract a core for analysis.
    “Sea ice is an important indicator of the polar climate but measuring its thickness has been tricky,” said Williams, the report’s co-author.
    “The key thing is that this is a game changer because it was previously very challenging to measure ice depth. We were limited to visual observation from the decks of ships or ice cores and take measures.
    “It was a lot of hard work and quite crude, which means we were biased towards thinner ice. It was a bit like a doctor diagnosing a condition by prodding the skin.”

    • Are you saying that the discovery of thicker ice is not a function of better technology, but of a change in the ice itself? Is there something in the original paper which actually says that or are is it something invented to confirm your pre-existing belief??

      • The point is the pre-existing belief of the Team, ie that while Antarctic sea ice was growing, because it was less thick than Arctic ice, total global sea ice volume wasn’t growing.
        Another fail for the Team.

  35. I can’t see why anyone should be in the least surprised by these results. Whedrever there is moving sea-ice there will be pressure ridges, and wherever there is a pressure ridge there is a “keel” that is about 10 times deeper than the height of the ridge (the ice floats, remember?). 17 meter thick ice equals about a five feet high ridge which is not at all exceptional, I’ve seen higher ones both in the Baltic and the Arctic Ocean..

  36. Isn’t one excuse for the thinner sea ice that winds have stretched it thin, covering a larger area?
    I guess now it is that the ice is very thick in places due to winds compressing it and the total area of sea ice has increase despite the winds, not because of it.

  37. How long until NSIDC changes the information on their website concerning Antarctic vs Arctic sea ice thickness.
    http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/seaice/characteristics/difference.html
    Excerpt:
    Thickness
    Because sea ice does not stay in the Antarctic as long as it does in the Arctic, it does not have the opportunity to grow as thick as sea ice in the Arctic. While thickness varies significantly within both regions, Antarctic ice is typically 1 to 2 meters (3 to 6 feet) thick, while most of the Arctic is covered by sea ice 2 to 3 meters (6 to 9 feet) thick. Some Arctic regions are covered with ice that is 4 to 5 meters (12 to 15 feet) thick.

  38. Inconvenient truth for the Guardian commenters today, they claim the story had nothing to do with Climate Change and that nobody said anything about thicker ice, this despite the article headline clearly stating that the ice was “thicker than we thought” and that ice being thicker was the main point of the article.
    Of course, if it had found that the ice was thinner than we thought that would have had everything to do with Climate change.

  39. Did you all catch the other interesting finding by the BAS, on ocean acidification and impact on shells?
    The paper and findings are noted on the homepage.
    “Ocean acidification does not impact shell growth and repair in the Antarctic brachiopod Liothyrella uva.”
    This is a very significant finding

  40. The anomalous cold SSTs all around the Antarctic sea ice boundary have been very persistent, they are almost a permanent feature.
    And peri-Antarctic cold SSTs have now linked with those in the Nino 1-2 regions.
    Look out for a fat La Nina next year.
    Talking of fat – Hi Miriam howz it going?

  41. NO, NO…!
    ITS THINNING..!
    ITS MELTING..!
    All the models say so..!
    There must be something wrong with the facts..!

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